Members of GMB, UCATT and Unite expected to receive damages running into millions

Royal Courts of JusticeMore than 260 construction workers are on the verge of securing damages running into millions of pounds after bosses admitted blacklisting.

The admission and apology is the result of High Court legal action by GMB, UCATT and Unite, together with the Blacklisting Support Group.

As well as securing an admission that the construction firms, through the covert operations of the Consulting Association, had breached data protection and were liable for the unlawful use of the private details of unions members, Unite’s legal team, Thompsons Solicitors, secured a ground-breaking admission that its members had been defamed.

The additional admission of defamation means that Unite members are in line for larger pay outs to compensate for the damage inflicted on their lives by blacklisting. Importantly, it also stops the firms – including Sir Robert McAlpine Ltd, Balfour Beatty, Crown House Technologies, Skanska, Kier and Laing O’Rourke – hiding behind ‘non-disclosure’ meaning Unite members can continue to seek answers on how and why they were blacklisted.

Unite assistant general secretary Gail Cartmail said: “Blacklisting is a scandal that has ruined lives and led to hardship and misery for thousands of people. The admissions from the blacklisters and the damages for the blacklisted are an important step on the road to justice in righting that wrong.

“That road won’t be completed though, or the stain of blacklisting removed, until there is a full public inquiry and the livelihoods of the blacklisted restored by the firms involved giving them a permanent job.

“Those Tory ministers, who profess to be on the side of workers, while attacking trade unions should take note of these landmark admissions. They need to drop their draconian Trade Union bill which will make it easier for bad bosses to get away with injustices like blacklisting.”

GMB national officer Maria Ludkin said: “The admissions of liability for defamation by major construction including Carillion and Sir Robert Mc Alpine applies to all cases including those for GMB members. It is a testament to the aggressive legal strategy GMB has pursued.

“The fact that the companies have acknowledged the distress and anxiety caused to workers and their families now gives us a firm basis to make sure members are given the very substantial compensation they deserve, and that the true nature of the secretive Consulting Association is known.

“Even though it has taken years of fighting in the High Court, the companies have now acknowledged that they infringed workers’ rights to confidentiality, privacy, reputation and data protection, which is an important battle to have won.

“The next fight is to ensure the companies are properly held accountable so that this cannot happen again.”

UCATT acting general secretary Brian Rye said: “This is a highly significant step forward in the battle for blacklisting justice. Finally the companies have admitted their guilt and have begun to apologise. However we will continue fighting until justice is achieved for all our affected members.”

  • You can read here a UnionNews exclusive by BSG secretary Dave Smith on where workers will go next 

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Tim Lezard

Campaigning journalist, editor of @Union_NewsUK, NUJ exec member; lover of cricket, football, cycling, theatre and dodgy punk bands

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